‘Tread’ is out 22nd October via Brainfeeder.
Ross From Friends—AKA British producer Felix Clary Weatherall—returns with ‘Tread’, his keenly anticipated new album, due for release on 22nd October via Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint.
On ‘Tread’ Ross From Friends dials up the intricate and emotive qualities of his production style that have previously led Mixmag to praise his “idiosyncratic dexterity that not only makes your heart ache, but dance right out of your chest”. An artist who demonstrates an ever-increasing mastery of his craft, ‘Tread’ is a record that is at once sleek and melodic but also eminently danceable, nostalgic but brilliantly modern, with nods to sounds and styles that are not so much reflected but refracted and recontextualised through Clary Weatherall’s lens.
Lead single “The Daisy” exemplifies the spirit of the album. A bewitching club track that skips out of the speakers, the peppy 2-step drums cosying up to swollen pads that tug on your heart strings. Drawing its name from one of the opening steps in solving the classic Rubik’s Cube puzzle, the single also comes alongside a video which peers into the world of competitive speed-cubing. Directed by Rudá Santos and commissioned as part of Crack Magazine’s ‘Three Minutes’ program, the video also features a cameo from Felix as a speed-cubing competition judge.
It follows his highly acclaimed 2018 debut album ‘Family Portrait’—named one of the best of the year by Crack Magazine, Mixmag, NME and AV Club with further support from the likes of Rolling Stone, The Observer, The Wire, Resident Advisor and many more—and subsequent ‘Epiphany’ single on Brainfeeder, both of which were dedicated to and inspired in part by his parents and sister respectively.
Just as unique as the music on ‘Tread’ is the manner in which it came about. Frustrated by the friction to the creative process that arises when recording hardware and instruments through a computer—the constant need to start and stop recording, saving and cataloguing everything as you go—Felix decided to write and build his own piece of software. The resulting plugin—named “Thresho” and available via Ableton’s Max For Live platform—starts recording once the audio hits a user-defined threshold, then stops once it goes below that threshold, automatically saving and indexing the resulting clips alongside timestamps.
Leaving “Thresho” running in the background, Felix now found himself able to stay fully in the moment while jamming with his instruments, free to go with ideas as they happened, safe in the knowledge that nothing would be lost, or need replaying or recapturing. This revelation in how he approached the production and writing on ‘Tread’ meant he spent the first six months just experimenting with his hardware, not actually committing to any music, but with “Thresho” quietly recording everything he was doing, each session leaving its mark on an ever expanding library of his own samples. When he later came to composing the album, he was then able to draw on specific moments, either recalling the exact date or time he had made a recording, or simply browsing the now vast audio library of his own making. “Sometimes a whole tune could come from an idea within a recording or sometimes I’d just dump a random recording into an existing project and see what happens,” he explains.
At the same time as writing ‘Tread’ there were also huge shifts taking place in the world outside of music. Finding himself confined over lockdown to a small stretch of the Old Kent Road in London—an area between his studio and his house that he would traverse each day—Felix discovered this was the same neighbourhood in which his Nan had worked in a sweet shop many years before, and where his Dad had attended various parties and squats in his heyday. As he wrote the record, he spent a lot of time reflecting on his own life around this area: the parties he’d go to, different friends, relationships, houses he’s lived in and made tunes in. “In my mind it chronologically tied itself to the tunes I was listening to across that period too,” he explains. “How things have changed over the past 10 years in South London can be mapped with the type of music I was listening to throughout various stages of living here. I’ve basically honoured all of these musical touchstones across the album, thinking about how those memories and the tunes attached have been etched into a permanent chronology that’s completely personal to me.”
This new way of working alongside Felix’s inner reflections are inextricably intertwined. “I’ve amassed all of these memories from a time spent just messing around in South London, as with ‘Thresho’, I’ve amassed all of these recordings from sitting around and experimenting musically,” he says. “’Tread’ refers to the marks that I’ve been permanently leaving, both in my memories and throughout the process using ‘Thresho’”.
With ‘Thresho’ being so integral to the album Felix has also made the decision to share this vast bank of recordings that were the foundations of ‘Tread’ and in doing so, offer up a peek behind the scenes at the creative process of one electronic music’s most individual and compelling voices. To be released soon, fans will be invited to explore this resource and share their interpretations, versions, iterations and interactions.
A cornerstone of Ross From Friends music has always been the blistering Ross From Friends 3-man live show—comprising Felix, Jed Hampson & John Dunk—that delivers a killer blend of live musicianship (guitar, keys and sax) and electronics and has graced stages at the likes of Coachella, Glastonbury, Primavera, and Sonar to name a few. With multiple sold-out dates across previous tours throughout the UK, EU, Australia and North America, the trio are returning this summer to perform at Green Man, Lost Village and Field Day prior to headline tour in the UK & Europe in 2022.